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Rudaw

Analysis

Kurdistan faces balancing act as global powers vie for influence in Middle East

By Rudaw 11/9/2017
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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Kurdistan’s geographic placement and aspirations to be a democratic state are both assets in its quest for support for independence, but also a cause for caution in a region where global powers are struggling for dominance, argued experts on a recent Rudaw Research Centre panel. 


The United States may not be explicitly supporting an independent Kurdistan and the September 25 referendum, but the signs of a close relationship are there, stated retired US Brig. Gen. Ernie Audino in a panel moderated by Rudaw’s Ranj Sangawi. 

Kurds are a well-known moderate Sunni voice and as such will be crucial to combatting not only ISIS but jihadi ideology in general, Audino argued. The black flag of ISIS stopped at Kurdish soil, he pointed out, and the world, including US President Donald Trump, knows this. 

If Kurdistan emerges as an independent, democratic state, it will double the number of friendly democracies in the Middle East, the American stated. And as Iranian influence grows in the Middle East, in Kurdistan “is where counter-balance to Iranian power must begin.”

There are indications that the United States is favourable towards an independent Kurdistan. One example Audino provided is the planned construction of a new consulate in Erbil, an extremely large project that is “really designed to be an embassy.”

“I do not think the United States will stand in the way of independence,” Audino concluded.

This close relationship between Kurdistan and the United States worries Moscow, however. Russia has growing influence in the Middle East and “Kurds have to be very careful and very skilled in diplomacy first of all, not to get in between big powers,” argued Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian military analyst. 

 

 

The result of the referendum is a foregone conclusion. Kurds should, therefore, be planning for what happens next – modernizing their nation and forces and maneuvering themselves out of the major power struggles in the Middle East if they want to survive, Felgenhauer stated. 

Audino issued reassurances that the US will protect their Kurdish friends. If conflict erupted between the Peshmerga and the Hashd al-Shaabi, as some fear, Audino is confident the US would assist the Kurds. 

“The Peshmerga are our allies and I cannot imagine that the United States would allow our great ally in this fight to defend humanity to be attacked and would not come to their aid. I just can’t imagine that.”

Audino knows the Peshmerga well, having embedded with the Kurdish force as a combat adviser.


Comments

 
Eugene | 12/9/2017
North Korea shares nuclear information with Iran and vice versa......almost ready to put nuclear war heads on missles...war?..........What if Iran and some others lost a war with NATO..would the area containing Kurds be given independence?...maybe we will find out in the near future???
Masque du Furet | 12/9/2017
Is China a global power? US can be disqualified as grants: Twitter Trump decided treaties his predecessor had signed must be torn (will Iran trust US: only solution they are given is to re-arm). Even Erdogan understood that America is not that great: his thugs are free to bully demonstrators on the very American sacred soil.... Russia granted Ukraine's territorial integrity, and, in *exchange** , nuke bombs could be dismantled. Does any one, now, trust Russia? As they inveded parts of Ukraine, which is not a warrant's role? Remain EU , once brexited ("United" Kingdom can be seen as a 53th US state, with weird ways of cooking and of driving). Now, UE is not a military power, nor a diplomatic one.... And China (now, US are begging for its help with North Korea, once they somewhat understood that (a) threatening could only make a mas dictaor laugh ; (b) this mad dictator can bomb South Korea and Japan (leading to irreversible distrust w/r US)). But are Chinese interested in being a global power?

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